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What a season for Glebe Rangers!

Thursday, 14 June 2018

What a season for Glebe Rangers! thumbnailGlebe Rangers pictured after securing the title against St James' at the Riada Stadium in Ballymoney. SPB24-63.

GLEBE  Rangers have just enjoyed a season of a lifetime.
The first-team squad, reserves and the Old Boys all clinched their respective league titles, as well as winning three cups along the way.
Speaking exclusively to The Chronicle, first-team manager Jason Wilmont was full of praise after a successful campaign that ended with six trophies across the board.
“It was a brilliant season and we couldn't have asked for any better," Jason said.
“We won the double, the Reserves won three trophies and the Old Boys clinched the league on the final game of the season.
“It was brilliant for everyone connected with Glebe Rangers.
“Our aim at the start of the season was to win the league.
“We won a trophy the year before which was a long time coming and we finished third
“The consensus was that we dropped a lot of silly points last season, but while I said it's nice getting long runs in cup competitions, we want to go and win our league first."
The Ballymoney side defeated St James' last month to lift the league title in what was a nervy affair at the Riada Stadium.
However despite on-field success, in terms of trophies, Jason is equally as proud to be able to blood three or four younger players from the talented Reserve side.
“It was a very nervy affair against St James', but I felt like I was the calmest person there," Jason added.
“They were good, threw everything at us and the game was what we were expecting.
“We rode our luck at times, but there have been games this season where we haven't got a rub of the green, so it balances itself out and we were deserving league winners.
“The squad is mostly young boys from the town, a couple from Coleraine and Ballymena, who aren't interested in money but wanting to play for the shirt and that's what we want to instill into the players.
“The reserves winning three trophies was great for Ryan and we have promoted three or four players to first-team action over the course of the season.
“Rhys Blair, Cameron Kane and Scott Douglas all tasted action but you can't chuck them into the deep end straight away. It's about them pushing on and having the correct attitude."
Due to Glebe's triumph in the Ballymena & Provincial League, Wilmont's side had a chance to return to the third tier of Irish League football in a play-off fixture against Mid-Ulster outfit Dollingstown.
However the decision was made across all levels of the club to not fulfil the fixture due to financial reasons - but Wilmont has no regrets.
“The decision was simply made to secure the future of the club," Wilmont continued.
“From my point of view, there are certainly no regrets about not facing Dollingstown because the club comes first.
“Of course you sometimes think 'what if we won that game?' but you can't look at in that way.
“I don't think anyone wants the club to struggle financially if we got promotion, so I think we made the right decision.
“Everybody, including myself, the committee and players had a say in the decision and it was agreed to remain in the Ballymena Provincial League."
Plans are well underway for the new season and boss Wilmont has challenged his players to retain the league title and the Crawford Cup.
“Our aim next season is to try and retain the title. We know it's going to be tough as Bangor and St James' are going to strengthen," Wilmont concluded.
“The young players at our club have gained another year's experience, so I'm expecting them to be better too.
“It will be an interesting league and I'm really looking forward to it.
“It was great season for all the local teams like ourselves; Dervock, Coleraine, Limavady and even Institute. It's what you want and it shows you that players are available.
“We are trying to get a few signings over the line before I go on holiday in two weeks time."
Ryan Gurney, who is currently player-manager of the Reserve side had plenty of reasons to celebrate.
His players won the Coleraine & District League, the Chronicle Cup and the McKendry Fabrications League Cup and he admits the turnaround in fortunes has been evident in recent years.
“It was a fantastic season to win three trophies with a squad having the average age of 19 or 20, and a few experienced lads helping them on," Ryan said.
“It's nice to win trophies, but seeing the young lads make the step-up to the first-team means we are doing things right here.
“I must give credit to my assistant Neil McVicker who is a great support and Craig Sheppard who has been a real leader since he signed from Tullans.
“The targets were to put a bigger challenge to Dervock and Ballybogey and thankfully it happened.
“They are mostly all Ballymoney lads who grew up together, so that makes it even more special.
“It is a great turnaround as we used to beg people to play for us, but now my phone hasn't stopped ringing but that's a pleasant problem to have."
Gurney hopes his side can repeat their impressive season, but has hopes that several of his players will be promoted to the first-team in the long run.
“The plan for us next season is to try and retain our three trophies," Ryan revealed.
“We know it won't be easy and I want three or four of our players to nail first-team shirts come August.
“They are coming to that stage where they need to make the breakthrough and we have assigned a couple to provide competition for places."
The owner of RG Autos in the town believes a few players might be on the look-out for a new partner after celebrating the success.
“I would say there's a few men in our squad close to being single," Ryan joked.
“With Coleraine winning the Cup, the Glebe being involved in cup finals, or winning the league, it's definitely caused reasons to celebrate.
“We have our dinner dance coming up and that could easily turn into a two-day event.
“The most important thing is that we are celebrating the club winning six trophies with friends and family."

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